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Morgan Heights

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Vanished Hamlet on Route 66

Morgan Heights was once a hotel, gas station, bus stop and cabins on the old 1926 to 1943 Route 66 alignment. Now it has vanished.

Morgan Heights MO

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About Morgan Heights Missouri

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 1,012 ft (309 m). Population n⁄a (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Morgan Heights is located on the 1926-1943 alignment of Route 66 in Pulaski County, central Missouri. (Map of Morgan Heights).

The image below shows a current street view (TOP) of the point where the 1926 to 1942 alignment of Route 66 curves to the right, leaving the old MO-17 highway and a c. 1926 view of that same spot (BOTTOM), whith the old cabins and filling station, razed to make way for the modern paved Hwy. Z.

The 1926-1943 Route 66 then and now in Morgan Heights, Missouri

The 1926-1943 Route 66 then and now in Morgan Heights MO
The 1926-1943 Route 66 then and now in Morgan Heights, Missouri, Click on image for Street View

History of Morgan Heights

For the general history of the area check the History of Waynesville.

The "Wire Road" built during the 1860s to service the telegraph line from St. Louis to Fort Smith in Arkansas, passed through Morgan Heights, and would become the main road from St. Louis to Springfield and would become State Hwy. 14 in the early 1920s and U.S. 66 in 1926. Later in 1943 Route 66 was upgraded to a four-lane freeway with a straight alignment that bypassed the hamlet, causing its demise.

The name: Morgan Heights

Named after its hotel.

Where to Lodge in Morgan Heights, Missouri

Accommodation and hotels near Morgan Heights...

> >Book your hotel in Waynesville

More Lodging near Morgan Heights along Route 66

Motels and Hotels close to Morgan Heights

Hotels, Westwards in Missouri

Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...

Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...

Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation

Hotels further East, in Illinois

Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> Check out the RV campground in neighboring Waynesville

Weather in Morgan Heights

Weather widget for St. Robert the town nearest Morgan Heights to the east

Latest Morgan Heights, Missouri weather
Route 66: Morgan Heights map with town location
Location of Morgan Heights on Route 66

Morgan Heights has well defined sesons: During summer, the average high (Jul) is 88°F (31.2°C), while the average low in 67°F (19.2°C). During winter (Jan) the average high is 42°F (5.6°C) and the average low is below freezing at 20°F (-7°C).

Rainfall averages 44.5 in (1.131 mm) per year and falls regularly each month in roughly the same amount). Snowfall is about 9 in. (23 cm), and falls between Dec. and Mar.

Tornado risk

Morgan Heights is located in the "Tornado Alley" and Pulaski County is hit by some 8 tornado strikes every year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.

Getting to Morgan Heights

You can reach Morgan Heights along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44 that links it with Springfield and Kansas - Oklahoma in the west and with Cuba to the east.

Map of Route 66 through Morgan Heights Missouri

See the alignment of US 66 in this location, on our Missouri Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.

Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Morgan Heights

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across Missouri

Historic U.S. highway 66, "Route 66" has been designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in the state of Missouri.

Click on the following link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Missouri.

Below is more information on the different Route 66's alignments through Morgan Heights (they are shown in the Map above)

Route 66 Sights in Morgan Heights

Landmarks and Places to See

Nothing left except the old US 66

Morgan Heights and its Route 66 attractions

Morgan Heights was a small community that had a hotel, cafe, gas station and bus stop on the 1926 to 1942 Route 66 alignment.

Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Morgan Heights

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse published his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" in 1946 but by then Morgan Heights had already been bypassed by the newer four-lane road, so he did not mention it.

Begin your tour at I-44 Exit 163 and head north along MO-28, the road will run on the north side of the freeway and then turn to the north. To your right there is a triple fork in the road: the old alignment (1926 to 1943) is the easternmost road, then comes the former MO-28, now Holly Dr. and next to the left, the paved current alignment of MO-28.

USGS map from 1942 showing Morgan Heights MO

USGS Map from 1942 showing Morgan Heights MO and Route 66.
Red arrows mark the 1926-43 alignment of US 66.

Morgan Heights

It was here that Missouri State Highway 28 and 14 took different courses;the former went north to Dixon, the latter east to Devil's Elbow. The Morgan Heights Cafe, Tourist Hotel and Cabins stood there, with a Texaco gas station and a Pickwick -later Greyhound- bus stop.

See the "then & now" photo at the top of this page, where we combine the current street view with an old postcard (see vintage postcard here).

The buildings were later demolished when MO-28 was paved and straightened out.

Old Route 66 in Morgan Heights

First trails

The first path in the region was a buffalo trail along the divide in the Ozarks which later served the natives and explorers. The Europeans named it the "Great Osage Trail" after the Osage Natives who lived here. During the Civil war a telegraph line was laid from St. Louis Missouri to Fort Smith in Arkansas and it passed through Morgan Heights, the road next to it, was named "Old Wire Road".

Cars became more common in the countryside during the early 1900s, but the dirt tracks used by carts were in terrible state: they were muddy bogs during the rainy season and full of potholes during the dry season. Finally, the lobbying by the Inter-Ozarks Highway Association led to the creation of Missouri State Highway 14 which ran from St. Louis to Springfield and which went through Morgan Heights. Later, in 1926 Route 66 was aligned along it.

Old Route 66: 1926-1943 Alignment in Morgan Heights

The original alignment is shown in the Map above in Blue. It was a winding road with plenty of curves and climbs. It was also quite unsafe and narrow.

1940 Safer road needed

When Fort Leonard Wood was created in 1940, the traffic of heavy military trucks along U.S. 66 increased tremendously. This caused congestion and there were more accidents. The government decided to straighten the road, eliminate steep gradients and widen it, so a four lane divided highway was built from Hooker, a 90 foot-deep cut was made in Hooker and a new concrete bridge built across the Big Piney River. The curves and narrow old bridge with a dog leg at Devil's Elbow were bypassed.

The new highway opened in 1943 and consisted of a completely new and straight alignment with two lanes separated by a central curbed division from eastern Hooker to Grandview. Here it bypassed the old curved segment (now on the north side of I-44) through Morgan Heights. This new alignment is shown in Pale Blue from Hooker to Morgan Heights in the map above.

West of Morgan Heights the four lanes continued, but not close to each other. The eastbound lanes followed the original 1926 Alignment which now is Hwy Z. The westbound lanes were new; a straight alignment which is now under I-44, running all the way to Hardy Ln. where all four lanes met and again ran as a divided highway into Ft. Leonard junction with Route 66.

Alignment after 1952

In 1952 the Missouri Highway Department started work to improve Route 66 to make it safer and shorter, this meant eliminating the winding course in many sections in. The four lane highway was built from St. Robert to Springfield, bypassing Waynesville, and east towards Rolla.

1953 and 1958 roadmaps of US 66 near Morgan Heights

Missouri D.O.T. 1953 and 1958 Roadmaps, Route 66 from Rolla to Hazelgreen

The 1953 (bottom) and 1958 (top) roadmaps show the section from Hazelgreen to Rolla. Notice how it all became a four lane freeway (but still named US 66). Route 66 was bypassed from Hazelgreen through Waynesville to MO-17, but still ran through Hooker cut and would do so until 1981. When I-44 built its alignment over the old westbound lanes of US 66.

Eventually the whole of US 66 in this area was upgraded into a four lane highway with overpasses, and after 1958 it coexisted with the new interstate I-44 (a state petition in 1962 to name the highway I-66 was denied by the AASHTO). Finally in 1972 the whole of Route 66 had been replaced by the freeway and in 1974 it was decided that the whole of US 66 from Chicago to Joplin would be eliminated. However this was delayed until I-55 in Illinois was completely brought up to Interstate standards. The signs were removed in 1977 but the last segment of the old Route 66 to be bypassed was the section in Powellville, in 1981. The current segment of I-44 from Exit 169 to 159 was never part of Route 66 and cuts the old alignment in the points marked with Black in the map above.

> > See previous segment Devil's Elbow to Morgan Heights (east)

> > See the next segment St. Robert to Waynesville (west)


Maura Johnson and John F. Bradbury, Route 66 Association of Missouri. 1993, Architectural ⁄ Historical Inventory Survey. Route 66 in Missouri

The Ramsay Place Names File

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.